NBA.com Daily Confidential

The Philadelphia 76ers spent much of the last month dealing with an unhappy player. The Sacramento Kings are beginning to wonder if they have a similar situation on their hands.

The Kings host the 76ers on Wednesday at Arco Arena, uncertain whether Ron Artest will be available.

In his first full season with the Kings (11-14), Artest is shooting a career-low 38.9 percent from the field and is averaging 16.4 points per game - his fewest in four seasons.

He has been absent the team's last two games because of a knee problem, but there seems to be controversy surrounding the injury.

Artest participated in warmups last Thursday but did not play in the team's 126-119 loss to the Washington Wizards, watching the game from the training room rather than joining his team on the sidelines. After the loss, Coach Eric Musselman referred all questions about Artest's status to the training staff, an unusual choice since trainers typically don't answer questions.

The Kings acquired Artest last season after his relationship with the Indiana Pacers soured and he spent seven weeks on the sidelines while the team sought a trade.

Sacramento's official team Web site lists Artest as questionable for Wednesday's game. If he's unable to play, John Salmons will likely continue taking his place. Salmons has performed well in Artest's absence, recording 23 points in the loss to the Wizards and 21 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a 101-96 win over the Denver Nuggets on Friday - his first career triple-double.

Sacramento arrived only 90 minutes before Friday's game because of a snowstorm in Denver, but still managed to win for just the third time in 12 December games and snap a three-game losing skid.

``We will never have a worse travel day than today,'' Musselman said. ``Our energy and effort was phenomenal.''

The Kings lost both of last season's matchups with Philadelphia, ending a nine-game winning streak in the series. Sacramento is also 12-2 at home against the 76ers (7-20) since 1991.

Philadelphia began its season-long seven-game Western road trip with a 116-97 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday. Former Sacramento forward Chris Webber, who missed four games earlier this month because of a sprained ankle, finished with just four points in less than 13 minutes of action.

Webber, who spent more than six seasons with the Kings before being traded in February, 2005, has averaged 18.5 points in two games against his former team since leaving Sacramento.

With Tuesday's loss, Philadelphia fell to 2-2 since trading Allen Iverson to the Denver Nuggets a week ago for Andre Miller, Joe Smith and two 2007 first-round draft picks. Miller had 14 points and seven assists at Golden State, while Smith had 12 points and five rebounds off the bench.

Rookie forward Rodney Carney started for the first time since Dec. 11, and had 25 points and eight boards in more than 45 minutes - all career highs.


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